Life went on peacefully in the outer ring of Balvan mansion, the only peculiar thing was a little kid going to the guards' building every week.
At first, he would always come out of the building full of bruises but as time went by, the wounds on his body diminished and a faint pressure was created around him.
That day, that same little kid was seen early in the morning again as he marched towards that guards' building.
'It's been two lessons since I last got hit. I wonder if in today's sparring Master will raise his level again.'
Since his second lesson, William had kept on engraving the forms of the martial arts on Noah's mind. After 3 months of conditioning, his techniques were nearly perfect in their execution so his Master chose to raise the level of the training. They started to spar freely as William would hold himself back only to raise his level when Noah managed to consistently hit him. By that time though, the condition was fulfilled twice already by Noah but his Master would still not raise his level.
Entering the usual room, Noah was surprised to find his Master sitting cross-legged on the floor waiting for him.
No traces of his usual sleepiness was present as he was staring at a fixed point of the room with vacant eyes, probably in deep thought.
"Master, you're early!"
William's eyes regained its focus as he stood up and looked at his disciple with a complex expression.
"Can you use the "Breath" in your style?"
Noah was taken aback by this question.
Since the "Breath" in his body was limited, his Master always forbid him to release it during their spar or his personal training. Noah's schedule was always so full that he could not find the time during his day to refill it with the Ice-Fire revolving technique. His Master knew this, so he chose to forbid its usage and let it focus on nourishing the kid's body. As such, Noah only manipulated it during his training, without ever releasing it. Today tho, things seemed different.
"I think I can, even if I have never used it in an actual fight I should get the hang of it in a couple of tries. Why is that?"
William did a light smile as a bit of warmth leaked from in his expression.
During these months he began to understand his disciple better. He would always smile and speak seemingly without thinking too much but he knew how things really were. Noah was ruthless, he treated his body and mind like a piece of metal going through forging. If the body would not bend he would hammer it till it did, no matter how much pain he would suffer in the process. If his mind was weak, he would heat it till its effects would reverberate to the body, causing a constant nauseous feeling lingering on him.
He knew how much Noah trained and how determined he was in his search for power, so William could not help but give birth to some kind of affection and even respect for him.
'This kid says that he might do it in a couple of tries, does he know how much does it usually take to do it? What a pity, if his position was different he could have taken things slowly and have a bright future, with his talent and perseverance it's just a matter of time before he even surpasses me. Yet, the guys in the inner circle will never allow someone from outside the family to become too strong, especially someone that might have reasons to get revenge on them.'
The complicated expression on William's face became more evident as he exhaled a sigh.
"Do you know how much time has passed since our first meeting?"
Noah thought for a little and then realization dawned upon him.
He was so engrossed in his training that he forgot about the passage of time but when his Master asked the question he understood.
"That's right, almost six months have passed and your progress with mental energy have long surpassed the standard I had set for you. Next week we will begin the treatment, so the "Breath" in your body is not that useful anymore. It's better to start with the real martial art so to have some advantages if you manage to survive next week."
Noah's expression became serious.
'The time has indeed come, the life I was living was too perfect to continue, I almost forgot that all my training will be useless if I don't push my body to the next level.'
Thinking this, he went to the usual wall to pick 2 sabers as he stared at his Master with resolution.
"No reasons to waste time then, right Master?"
The slight smile on Noah's face was a blow delivered to William's mind.
'Doesn't he really care about death?'
He shook his head to repress the thought and took the usual wooden stick and pointed it at Noah.
"Then come at me like we always do, but this time try to mix some "Breath" attacks in the spar. You should be able to do three or four of them before the "Breath" in your arms depletes."
Hearing these words, Noah waited no more. He swiftly charged at William with his body crouched so low it seemed he would fall on the floor anytime.
When his Master entered his range of attack, he thrust both his sabers in a diagonal uppercut infusing "Breath" according to the art's instruction.
Yet, his timing was a bit off and the result was only a simple double uppercut that William blocked easily positioning his stick horizontally.
Noah rushed again, this time in a cross-slashing position but the result was the same as before.
"Concentrate! You can do your forms almost perfectly and I know you can move your "Breath" according to the instructions, you only need to synchronize them!"
William knew that the process of synchronization wasn't so easy as he said but wanted to increase the pressure on his disciple. The only thought in his mind was how to increase the chances of the survivability of his disciple. He wanted to increase his handling of the "Breath" even of just a little before the treatment.
This time, Noah didn't immediately rush to attack him but closed his eyes to sharpen his mind, his only thought became the rhythm of the twin saber style.
When he opened his eyes he was ready for the last attack.
He slowly exhaled and then charged at William with a horizontal slash.
William mentally nodded and received his attack.
A piece of wood fell on the ground, it was half of the stick in William's hands.
William stared astonished at the saber laid on his throat.
'That... That's a perfect execution! I aimed for him to slightly dent the stick, never would I imagine that he could cut right through it with some blunt weapons!'
Noah realized the situation he was in and hastily retracted his sabers. Some sweat was on his face and back, apparently using a martial art synchronized with "Breath" was way more tiring than what appeared.
"I'm sorry Master! I didn't realize I could actually cut through it, luckily I stopped myself at the last moment."
William cleared his throat and touched the spot where the saber was lying just the moment before.
"Don't... Don't worry, it's fine. Do you think that your Master is so weak that a mere disciple could hurt him? Hmph! I have a rank 3 body, do you think that a martial art of rank 2 powered with your poor "Breath" can actually-"
He had to interrupt himself seeing Noah pointing at his throat. A drop of blood was slowly falling from there.
"You wretched disciple don't be so smug about it!"
Noah could not help but laugh a little when he saw his Master lose his cool but then William calmed himself and looked seriously at Noah.
Noah understood that it was the time for his last instructions before next week so he listened attentively.
"Next week don't climb the stairs for this floor but wait at the bottom of them, I will meet you there. I will perform the treatment in another place, after all the screams of a kid are not the happiest sounds to hear."
Noah gulped when he heard the word "screams" but then focused again, he had already decided to put his life on the line.
"If you survive, you will probably spend a week bedridden in order for your body to get used to its new acupoints, so remember to inform your mother about it. The day before the treatment don't practice anything, and I'm talking seriously here. The only thing you are allowed to do is rest and read the tome about the Forging of Seven Hells, your condition must be at the peak when you undergo the process."
William looked again at Noah, smiling this time.
"Now go, sharpen your mind even more if you can. Next week it's life or death."